” After two summers, I grew from a quiet and soft-spoken middle school kid into a student with high expectations – for my teachers, for my peers, and for myself.”
– Kevin Xiong, Breakthrough Student Alum, Class of 2017
I often tell others that I became a part of the Breakthrough family right out of the womb, as my brother David was a Breakthrough student as well. We come from an immigrant family that has always believed that hard work and advancement through education are the most important ingredients of success.
Growing up, hearing about David’s transformative Breakthrough experience and watching him return to Breakthrough as one of the first student-turned-teachers of the program, I desperately wanted to be a part of this program as well. So seven years ago, when I was in sixth grade, I enrolled as a student in Breakthrough and continued the cycle. At Breakthrough, I read Kurt Vonnegut, performed a recorder-violin duet with director Sarah Joslyn, and delivered a student testimonial at Celebration. After two summers, I grew from a quiet and soft-spoken middle school kid into a student with high expectations – for my teachers, for my peers, and for myself. At the end of my last summer, I told my advisor Chelsea that I wanted to come back and be a teacher one day. Breakthrough, for me, wasn’t just about the academics. At Breakthrough, I found self-confidence, a group of college-bound friends, and a love for learning.
The summer of my freshman year, without hesitation, I applied to be a math and writing junior teacher at Breakthrough and was paired with a collaborating teacher, Kayla Morse. The next summer, I was rehired as a full-time math and writing teacher. For the past three summers, I have dedicated over 1000 hours to teaching at Breakthrough. Yet 1000 is just a number. It is within these 1000 hours that I saw my students, through hard work and unwavering persistence, make significant gains in pre-algebra. In these 1000 hours, I have seen even the shyest students come out of their shells, perform cheers, and dominate the basketball court. And perhaps the best moment during these 1000 hours was receiving a letter from my advisee, Logan, explaining that he had found a new love for writing, a subject area in which he had always struggled. He concluded the letter with “I want to be a Breakthrough teacher too someday because I like to help people.” A number like 1000 – in itself – is only a number. But it can entail the immeasurable.